Tag Archives: Giles Milton

Lost verse

‘I can’t find the Oxford Book of English Verse,’ the Resident IT Consultant said one evening.

‘Well, I don’t know. It must be there, somewhere,’ I replied.

We searched. ‘Could it be we don’t actually have a copy?’ he asked.

While we do seem to own a fair few copies of these large, worthy, Oxfordy type tomes, I concluded this was a possible explanation.

Because it wasn’t upstairs with the other poetry. And not downstairs with the large books.

‘What did you want it for?’ I thought to ask.

‘I wanted to read Paradise Lost,’ the Resident IT Consultant said. ‘I suppose it’s lost, heh heh.’

‘Which part?’

‘The first two.’

‘Well, I have those. It was set reading at university. I don’t remember culling my copy, so it’s probably still here. Upstairs with the rest of the poetry.’

Turned out I was right. It was. And Bookwitch had saved the evening. She, who doesn’t do verse much.

I guessed the whole thing was set off by letting the Resident IT Consultant read The Secret Commonwealth when I was away for a few days. And he got to watch the first episode of His Dark Materials on television, also without me. Goes without saying that Paradise Lost is his next port of call.

Whereas when I got to the Smyrna bit in Philip Pullman’s second Book of Dust, I couldn’t help thinking of Giles Milton’s Paradise Lost…

Gorgeous Giles

Those are not my words, btw. I am quoting from a lady fan; someone I used to encounter a lot at book events near me, ‘many’ years ago. While I did find Giles Milton quite interesting to listen to, I had no real hankering to read his books, not even the fiendishly cleverly titled Paradise Lost. And I don’t fancy the man. Maybe she didn’t either, but she definitely saw a handsome man when she looked.

Giles Milton 2

I am merely using Giles to illustrate what I am writing about here, namely the familiarity with which I look upon photos in the press. The more I’ve seen or met an author, the more he or she feels like ‘mine’ when they pop up in a newspaper or magazine. Or for that matter, on television. Not that we have as many programmes featuring authors as we should have.

Just saying.

Like family, really. And it’s nice. It shortens the distance between me and them, when I feel I ‘know’ someone.

I feel especially proprietary if the photo in question is ‘ours.’ (As you can tell, I don’t mind claiming Daughter’s pictures as almost mine.) What I’m trying to say is that it’s akin to finding your mantelpiece photo in the press.

Francesca Simon

And the description Gorgeous Giles has a familiar ring to it, although I suspect it will never be used about me. I’m more the type to have my picture taken with ten glasses of wine next to me. Just in case. (Yes, I know that is another ancient photo. Less grey in it.)

Sara Paretsky, wine and the witch

The green backdrop is another familiar aspect, and I notice it all the time, even if I wasn’t there or I don’t know the author.

Henning Mankell

(All photos by various – and gorgeous – Gileses.)

Another Paradise Lost

It’s a little weird for me to write about a book I most likely won’t read. I don’t think I’ll have the time. But, after having heard Giles Milton talk about his book Paradise Lost last night, I have to report how interesting it sounds.

Giles Milton 1

As for Giles (what is it about that name?), he should be sent straight back to school. To talk about Smyrna, the subject of Paradise Lost. A few history teachers like him, and the world would be a different place. The witch is not very interested in history, but this really sounded fascinating. I will also have to arrange for Doctor Who to pop up here and bring me back to Smyrna before 1922, before it was all destroyed.

It seems the new mayor of London had a great-grandfather who was something ministerial there. Although he came to an unpleasant end. Hemingway, Onassis and Atatürk also have a past in Smyrna, not to mention the matriarch with 250 great-grandchildren. And if you belong to these old Levantine families, you may find that you too have another 150 new second cousins in Australia.